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Despicable Me 2 The animators might have done well to call their movie something else, given the lack of despicability Steve Carell’s reformed baddie displays. The scope of the ’toon espionage-adventure goings-on is surprisingly limited, mostly confining Gru and his secret agent soulmate (Kristen Wiig) to a mall, of all places. But the filmmakers so clearly love working on these characters – Gru’s yellow, mutant-elf Minions in particular – their creative joy is infectious. The sequel might not be all that warped, but it’s plenty funny nevertheless. (98 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain Despite an overlong, awkward prologue that makes him seem more insecure than self-deprecating, the hyperactive fireplug Kevin Hart demonstrates some moments of comic genius in this documentary of his sold-out 2012 Madison Square Garden stand-up show. At other times, though, you wish he’d just take a deep breath and not try to explain so much. (75 min., R) (Peter Keough)

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½ The Lone Ranger Ugh. Gore Verbinski’s bloated, overlong, boring western comedy casts Armie Hammer as a bumbling tenderfoot of a Lone Ranger. As Tonto, Johnny Depp shoots off whimsical one-liners in Injun-speak; He’s Jack Sparrow on downers in red-face. The movie features the usual bigger-than-big action “ride” scenes, but save your money for Six Flags. (149 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

20 Feet From Stardom Possibly the happiest time you’ll have at the movies this year. Morgan Neville’s lovely documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” celebrates the backup singers, those women whose voices are all over classic rock and ’60s pop but whose names never made it to the liner notes. The vocal performances alone can make you weep with joy. (90 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ A Hijacking A coolly assured nail-biter from Denmark that takes a story familiar from the news — Somali pirates storming commercial vessels and holding their crews for ransom — and turns it into high-stakes human drama. The second feature from writer-director Tobias Lindholm showcases his gift for tightly focused stories told without an ounce of fat. In English, Danish, and Somali, with subtitles. (116 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Before Midnight The third installment in director Richard Linklater’s saga of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is richer, riskier, and more bleakly perceptive about what it takes for love to endure (or not) over the long haul. Like Michael Apted’s “Up” documentaries, this series offers a touching and humbling time-lapse study of human nature. (108 min., R) (Ty Burr)

The Heat If you’re going to make a dopey, foul-mouthed, predictable lady-buddy-cop movie, you might as well make it funny. And until it overstays its welcome in the final half hour, “The Heat” is shamefully funny. Prissy Sandra Bullock and slobby Melissa McCarthy have genuine chemistry, and director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) makes nice use of Boston locations and action-comedy clichés. (117 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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½ Man of Steel Director Zack Snyder (“300”) has made a superhero blockbuster that carries the weight of its fraught times, but where’s the pop joy? As Superman, Henry Cavill is very good without quite convincing us he’s a star. With Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and crazy-eyed Michael Shannon as General Zod. (143 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Monsters University Better than “Cars 2” but not by enough, and further evidence that Pixar’s Golden Age may be in the past. It’s a prequel, the story of how Mike (voiced once more by Billy Crystal) met Sulley (John Goodman) at college. Small children will have a blast, but it’s still closer to average than any Pixar movie should be. (110 min., G) (Ty Burr)

½ White House Down Not known for subtlety or sense, Roland Emmerich outdoes himself in this hilariously overheated action thriller about an assault on the White House by terrorists with an apocalyptic agenda. Jamie Foxx, as the president, and Channing Tatum, as the unlikely hero who protects him, are good sports, but Emmerich might be the only who isn’t laughing at this presumably unintentional comedy. (129 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

Find an archive of movie reviews at www.boston.com/
movies.

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